Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

church

34 Entries

During these same days, God gave Moses commandments concerning the building of the tabernacle: of what it should be made, and how; and the vessels they should make for the sanctuary, and the commandments concerning the holy oil, the incense, and the priestly sacrifice. By saying to him: "You shall make everything according to the model of the tabernacle that I will show you," he first called it a model and a temporal tabernacle, to indicate that it was transitory and that it would be replaced by the church, the perfect prototype which lasts forever, and so that they would esteem it because of the likeness to the heavenly tabernacle. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Exodus.



Let no one deceive himself (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 6:7; James 1:16): anyone who is not within the altar (Hebrews 13:10) does not have the bread of God (cf. John 6:33; 1 Cor. 9:13; 10:18). For if the prayer of one or two (cf. Matthew 18:19) has such power as we are told, how much more powerful shall be that of the bishop and the whole church together! St. Ignatius of Antioch

Those things which the holy Fathers laid down as law and all that is of our Church is good holy, both in soul and body. And whatever is done outside our Church is all of the devil… St Kosmas Aitolos

According to the text, `We are the body of Christ and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27), we are said to be the body of Christ. We do not become this body through the loss of our own bodies; nor again because Christ's Body passes into us hypostatically or is divided into members; but rather because we conform to the likeness of the Lord's flesh by shaking off the corruption of sin. For just as Christ in His manhood was sinless by nature both in flesh and in soul, so we too who believe in Him, and have clothed ourselves in Him through the Spirit, can be without sin to Him if we so choose. St. Maximus the Confessor, Second Century on Theology, Philokalia, V. 2

Also, always ask the Church, and she, with her great experience and her victory over falsehood, will tell you what is the truth. For you are of yesterday, but the Church is from time immemorial. Your understanding is less than that of the Church St. Nicolai Velimirovic - THE PROLOGUE

As there is one God and one Lord, so also true dignity is expressed by oneness in the image of the One Principle. And so, the one Church, which heresies make an effort to cut into many, is likened by oneness unto the nature of the One. We call the ancient Catholic Church one according to her essence, according to our concept of her, according to her origin and preeminence. Presbyter Clement of Alexandria

For although God can change and transform diverse natures, yet because a mystery is of more benefit to me than a miracle, I should acknowledge in the Forerunner of Christ nothing greater than the building of the growing Church, which constructed not of stony rock, but of living stones, through the conversion of our spirits rose into an habitation of God and a pediment of the Temple. Indeed, God prepared to soften the hardnesses of our minds and from stumbling blocks to erect husbandmen of religion. St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke

For whomever the Church is not mother, God is not father. Hierarch Cyprian of Carthage

If any one believes, he is in the communion of faith; if he loves, he is in the communion of love; if he prayers he is in the communion of prayer. Wherefore no one can rest his hope on his own prayers, and every one who prays asks the whole Church for intercession, not as if he had doubts of the intercession of Christ, the one Advocate, but in the assurance that the whole Church ever prayer for all her members. All the angels pray for us, the apostles, martyrs, and patriarchs, and above them all, the Mother of our Lord, and this holy unity is the true life of the Church. The Church is One by Alexei Khomiakov

In the Church especially is accomplished the mystery of the cleansing from sins. Reverence, therefore, the place where your soul is cleansed from all impurities, where you are reconciled to God, where you receive the true life of the spirit. How many times the Lord has here granted me the cleansing from my sins, without which I could not have enjoyed God's gifts - the greatest of life's the gifts of peace and joy, and earthly blessings besides! Glory to Thee, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. `He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.' St. John of Kronstadt - My Life in Christ

In the Church, the past is contemporary; and that which is present remains so on account of the living past, since the God-man Christ Who is `the same yesterday, today and forever' (Heb. 13:8, continuously lives in His divine-human body by means of the same truth, the same holiness, the same goodness, the same life and establishes the past in the present. Thus, to a living Orthodox understanding and conscience, all the members of the Church, from the Holy Apostles to those who have recently fallen asleep, are contemporary since they continuously live in Christ. Further, today in every true Orthodox individual one can find all the Holy Apostles, Martyrs, and holy Fathers. For the Orthodox Christian these are more real than many of his contemporaries. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

In the Holy Scriptures the Church is repeatedly called the Body of Christ.... At the same time, bread and wine are made into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy, and the faithful partake thereof. Christ Himself ordained it so, communicating His apostles at the Mystical Supper with the words, "Take, eat; this is My Body; . . . Drink ye all of it; For this is My Blood of the New Testament" (Mat. 26:26-28). How is the Body of Christ at the same time both the Church and the Holy Mystery? Are the faithful both members of the Body of Christ, the Church, and also communicants of the Body of Christ in the Holy Mysteries? In neither instance is this name "Body of Christ" used metaphorically, but rather in the most basic sense. of the word. We believe that the Holy Mysteries which keep the form of bread and wine are the very Body and the very Blood of Christ. We likewise believe and confess that Christ is the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinners, and become true man, that His flesh, taken from the Virgin Mary, was true human flesh; that body and soul. Christ was a true man, in all respects like man, except sin, and at the same time remaining true God. The Divine nature was neither diminished nor changed in the Son of God in this incarnation, likewise the human nature was not changed at this incarnation, but retained in full all human qualities... ...For the full sanctification of man, the body of the servant of the Lord must be united with the Body of Christ, and this is accomplished in the mystery of Holy Communion. The true Body and the true Blood of Christ which we receive, becomes a part of the great Body of Christ. Of course, for union with Christ, the mere conjoining of our body with the Body of Christ does not suffice. The consumption of the Body of Christ becomes beneficial when in spirit we strive toward Him and unite ourselves with Him. Reception of the Body of Christ, with aversion to Him in spirit, is like the approach to Christ of those who struck Him and mocked and crucified Him. Their approaching Him served not for their salvation and healing, but for their condemnation. But those who partake with piety, love and readiness to bring themselves to serve Him, closely unite themselves with Him and become instruments of His divine will... All who believe in Christ and are united unto Him by giving themselves to Him and by the reception of divine grace conjointly constitute the Church of Christ, the Head of which is Christ Himself, and they who enter into her are her members. Christ, invisible to the bodily eye, manifests Himself on earth clearly through His Church just as the unseen human spirit manifests itself through its body. The Church is the Body of Christ both because its parts are united to Christ through His divine mysteries and because through her Christ works in the world. We partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, in the holy Mysteries, so that by Archbishop John (Maximovitch) full text available on the WWW at http://bullwinkle.cs.morehouse.auc.edu:1025/orthodox/index.html]

In their conferences, the Holy Synods draw not only from the Holy Scriptures, but also from Sacred Tradition as from a pure fount. Thus, the Seventh Oecumenical Synod says in its 8th Decree: 'If one violates any part of the Church Tradition, either written or unwritten, let him be anathema.' St. Nectarios of Aegina, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7

It is noteworthy that Jesus chose to perform many of His miracles on Saturday, which was then the day set aside as a day of rest, and for contemplation of God. When Jesus was condemned for repeatedly healing on this day, He made it clear that God's day was not to be wasted in idleness, but used for active celebrating by gathering to pray, doing good deeds, and for strengthening our souls. Sunday, the day of the resurrection, is not a day to spend sitting around the home mesmerized in front of the television of going shopping; it is the day to go to church, to pray, and to reinvigorate our lives. Sunday is intended to be an active commemoration of the Lord. Bishop Mitrophan ( Znosko) - Path to a Meaningful and Fruitful Life, Pg. 3

It should not frighten you that in the Church the bad are many and the good few. For the Ark, which in the midst of the Flood was a figure of this Church, was wide below and narrow above, and at the summit measured but one cubit (Gen. 6:16). And we are to believe that below were the four-footed animals and serpents, above the birds and men. It was wide where the beasts were, narrow where men lived; for the Holy Church is indeed wide in the number of those who are carnal minded, narrow in those who are spiritual. For where she suffers the morals and beastly ways of men, there she enlarges her bosom. But where she has the care of those whose lives are founded on spiritual things, the se she leads to the highest place; but since they are few, this part is narrow .... And so the more the wicked abound so much the more must we suffer them in patience; for on the threshing floor few are the grains carried into the barns, but high the piles of chaff that are burned with fire. St. Gregory the Great (+ 604)

Let us love the Church and be devoted to it. It is our joy and comfort both in sorrows and in joys. Counsels of Venerable St. Hilarion (Ponomarev) of Optina

Not only we are in this assembly (in the Church), but also the prophets and the apostles and all the saints; and what is most important of all - among us is Jesus Christ Himself, the Master of everything. Hierarch John Chrysostom

Now the ark of the covenant was placed within this curtain of the temple [Ex. 26:33] because after His passion and resurrection from the dead, the Mediator between God and humankind, the man Christ Jesus, Who alone is privy to the secrets of the Father, has ascended above the highest heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. The sanctuary and the holy of holies are divided by this curtain because the Church, which consists of the holy angels as well as human beings, partly still sojourns below and partly reigns in the eternal homeland above, as its citizens are still separated from another by the dividing curtain of heaven. The Venerable Bede, On the Tabernacle.

One ought to remain in that Church which, having been founded by the Apostles, exists even till this day. Blessed Jerome

So then, brethren, by doing the will of God our Father, we shall belong to the first Church, the spiritual one, which was created before the sun and the moon (cf. Ps. 72:5; Eph. 1:3ff). But if we fail to do the will of the Lord, that passage of Scripture will apply to us which says, "My house has become a den of robbers" (Jer. 7:11; cf. Mt. 21:13 and parallels). We must then choose to be of the Church of life in order to be saved. II Clement, in The Apostolic Fathers

The Church is the body of Christ, His bride, the world to come, and the temple of God. The members of His body are all the saints. However, not all of the saints who will please God have yet appeared, nor yet is the whole body of Christ thus complete, nor the world to come yet filled. I say this about God's Church. There are, though, many unbelievers in the world today who will believe in Christ; many sinners and debauched who will repent and change their lives; many undecided who will be persuaded. There are many, a great many, up to the sound of the last trumpet, who will prove well-pleasing to God and who have not yet been born. All those who are foreknown by God must be born, come into being, before the world beyond our world, the world of the Church, of the first-born, of the heavenly Jerusalem, is filled up. Then shall the end come and the fullness of the body of Christ be complete. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life

The Church is the body of Christ, His bride, the world to come, and the temple of God. The members of His body are all the saints. However, not all of the saints who will please God have yet appeared, nor yet is thus complete, nor the world to come yet filled. I say this about God's Church. There are, though, many unbelievers in the world today who will believe in Christ; many sinners and debauched who will repent and change their lives; many undecided who will be persuaded. There are many, a great many, up to the sound of the last trumpet, who will prove well-pleasing to God and who have not yet been born. All those who are foreknown by God must be born, come into being, before the world beyond our world, the world of the Church, of the first-born, of the heavenly Jerusalem, is filled up. Then shall the end come and the fullness of the body of Christ be complete. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life

The Church is the salt that salts the whole world, preserving it from putridity. Venerable Ephrem the Syrian

The term church, according to the strict Orthodox view, has two meanings, one of them expressing its doctrinal and religious character, that is, its inner, peculiarly spiritual essence, and the other expressing its external character. Thus, according to the Orthodox confession, the Church is defined in a twofold manner: as a religious institution, and as a religious community (koinonia).

The definition of the CHURCH as a religious institution may be formulated thus: The Church is a divine religious institution of the New Testament, built by our Savior Jesus Christ through His incarnate Dispensation, established upon faith on the day of holy Pentecost by the descent of the All-Holy Spirit upon the holy Disciples and Apostles of the Savior Christ, whom He rendered instruments of Divine grace for the perpetuation of His work of redemption. In this institution is entrusted the totality of revealed truths; in it operates Divine grace through the Mysteries; in it are regenerated those, who with faith, approach Christ the Savior; in it has been preserved both the written and the unwritten Apostolic teaching and tradition.

The definition of the church as a religious community may be formulated thus: The church is a society of men united in the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.

The right view of the church is that the church is distinguished into the Militant and the Triumphant; and that it is Militant so long as it struggles against wickedness for the prevalence of the good, the Triumphant in the heavens, where there dwells the choir of the Righteous, who struggled and were made perfect in the faith in God and in virtue. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187



Thus is the body of Christ's Church bound together in harmony by His saints from the beginning of the world. It is complete and entire in the union of the sons of God, the first-born, whose names are inscribed in heaven. It is to them that God says even now: `Do not rejoice in this, that the demons are subject to you' - which in the frivolous creates rather vanity and presumption - `but rejoice in that your names are written in heaven' (Lk. 10:20). ... all the saints are members of Christ, as in process of becoming one body with Him, and that this process will continue indefinitely. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life

Thus, as has been said, the holy Church of God is an image of God because it realizes the same union of the faithful with God. As different as they are by language, places, and customs, they are made one by it through faith. God realizes this union among the natures of things without confusing them but in lessening and bringing together their distinction in a relationship and union with Himself as Cause, Principle and end. St. Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings (On the Church's Mystagogy)

Undoubtedly, we are only saved as living and organic members of the theanthropic body of the Savior, namely of the Church, of a holy Church, apostolic Church, catholic Church because the Church is nothing but the whole theanthropic life of Christ, extended to all the centuries and to the whole eternity. Fr Justin Popovich, The Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

“The Church, which is catholic and one, is not split asunder nor divided, but is truly bound and joined together by the cement of its priests, who hold fast to one another.” St. Cyprian of Carthage (+ 258)

Let no one deceive himself (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 6:7; James 1:16): anyone who is not within the altar (Hebrews 13:10) does not have the bread of God (cf. John 6:33; 1 Cor. 9:13; 10:18). For if the prayer of one or two (cf. Matthew 18:19) has such power as we are told, how much more powerful shall be that of the bishop and the whole church together! St. Ignatius of Antioch

"No one can take God as his Father unless he takes the Church as his mother" St. Cyprian of Carthage

"They are the Church who are a people united to the Priest, and the flock which adheres to its Pastor. From this you ought to know that the Bishop is in the Church, and the Church is in the Bishop; and if anyone is not with the Bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those who flatter themselves and creep in, and commune secretly with some, do so in vain, not having peace with God's Priests; while the Church, which is universal and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the bond of Priests who unite with one another." "Epistle 68," A.D. 254, by Cyprian, martyr and Bishop of Carthage.

Those things which the holy Fathers laid down as law and all that is of our Church is good holy, both in soul and body. And whatever is done outside our Church is all of the devil… REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

I, my Christians, read both about priests and about impious people and about atheists and about heretics; I investigated the depths of wisdom. All faiths are false, fake; all are of the devil…Only the faith of the pious and Orthodox Christians is good and holy… REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

Be glad and rejoice that you were granted to be pious Orthodox Christians. Likewise again cry and mourn for the impious and unbelievers who walk in darkness, in the hands of the devil. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779





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